We are currently seeing some of the fastest-paced changes to the medical sector in history, as healthcare centres have been and continue to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic. Touchscreens form an integral piece of the progress which hospitals, doctor’s surgeries and other medical centres are making. We’ve taken a look at some of the biggest ways in which touchscreens are transforming the state of healthcare; read on to find out more.
Integrating touchscreens in healthcare centres has been shown to improve check-in times and help manage patient flow. Despite its proven benefits, this technology is still not widely implemented in healthcare; although the California Healthcare Foundation found that 75% of patients checked in faster through a touchscreen kiosk rather than a receptionist, only 5% of hospitals provided touchscreen check-ins.
The use of touchscreens can also help hospital patients with wayfinding in larger buildings. An Emory University Hospital study discovered that wayfinding challenges cost the hospital over $220,000 per year. Touchscreens have been shown to be invaluable in this regard. After Boston Children’s Hospital introduced a smartphone app to help visitors with wayfinding, 65% of users said it improved their experience, whilst a UK hospital study discovered that over 86% of users who interacted with a touchscreen wayfinding monitor found their desired destination without requiring further support.
Quickly Identifying Health Needs
Touchscreens can allow for a streamlined way for those entering the hospital to be asked quick screening questions and ascertain key information about a patient’s condition upon arrival, thus directing them to the relevant location more quickly upon arrival.
Hong Kong clinic LifeHub has recently introduced such a system; Ms Candice Chan, Executive Director at LifeHub, commented that the system allowed users to “identify their health needs in a way they can understand and afford”, describing it as “a new personalised consumer health experience” which was transforming the way they approached healthcare.
Intuitive and accessible
Touchscreens can even help the healthcare sector to overcome accessibility challenges; the concept of a touchscreen is one which is intuitive and requires minimal technological awareness. Its user interface is also entirely virtual and can be updated as required.
Many touchscreens now also include alterations which allow them to be used by visually impaired users. These products have dimples and grooves machined into their surface, which when combined with force-sensing technology and audio feedback allow touchscreens to become accessible to a wide range of users.
It’s essential for patient information to be accessed quickly and easily when required by medical professionals. Some hospitals have begun including touchscreen bedside terminals which grant access to critical patient information as required; this can be invaluable not only in day-to-day activities and check-ups, but also if a patient is asleep or otherwise incapacitated and a member of staff needs immediate information on their condition in an emergency.
Many of these touchscreens also have the capacity to work with latex gloves or other protective gear, allowing medical professionals to interact in a professional environment without losing time from taking on or off protective gear. As time is a critical factor in healthcare, advancements like this can prove to be a major advantage in patient care.
Preventing the spread of viruses and bacteria
Hygiene has never been more important in healthcare than it is now. In the current situation caused by COVID-19, healthcare centres must be as hygienic as possible to help prevent spreading the virus amongst patients and staff.
Unfortunately, traditional buttons, for example on lifts and in communally-used keyboards and machinery, are still present everywhere in healthcare centres. Because of how difficult these are to clean, mechanical buttons can be a hotspot for spreading bacteria and viruses.
On the other hand, touchscreens provide an unbroken surface with no moving parts which is easy to clean and disinfect. At Zytronic, we can also offer a screen with antimicrobial glass or specialist hygienic coatings which impair the growth of, and over time kill, bacteria naturally on touchscreens.
Touchscreens also have a variety of niche or specialist uses in the healthcare sector. Recornect, a Dutch mental disability care solutions company, used full-size, durable touchscreens from Zytronic to allow patients to control lighting, entertainment and communication from within their living quarters. These also allow for contact with or care of patients in a non-confrontational and remote manner when needed. The flush nature of the design means that the system did not have any projecting parts, bezels or buttons which could be damaged by aggressive behaviour or used to self-harm.